June 8 - Japanese robotics company Activelink, has unveiled its latest - and lightest - PowerLoader exoskeleton for lifting and carrying heavy objects. The robotic suit is more compact than the original PowerLoader, but follows the same principles as its inspiration - the exosuit made famous in the movie, Aliens 2. Elly Park reports.
A robotic exoskeleton developed by Activelink, a subsidiary of the Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, promises to give its wearer super-human strength. Known as the "Ninja," the PowerLoader Light is the company's second generation exosuit, modeled after the suits made famous in the movie, Aliens 2. The Ninja can lift and load three times its own weight -- around 60 kilos. It's chunkier predecessor, developed in 2009 for military and disaster relief work, can handle nearly four times that load. But the smaller ninja is designed for everyday use, in places like warehouses or on farms where repetitive heavy lifting is required, according to Activelink president, Hiromichi Fujimoto. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ACTIVELINK PRESIDENT, HIROMICHI FUJIMOTO, SAYING: "At first we will likely create power loaders and powered suits that are very specific in their purpose such as assisting backs or arms or legs. Those are what we hope to put out first as our first products." The machine operates on a principal called Direct Force Feedback. A system of sensors measure the direction, rotation and force of pressure that a user applies, and translates that into movements the ninja replicates with magnified strength. Eventually the company hopes to further reduce its size. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ACTIVELINK PRESIDENT, HIROMICHI FUJIMOTO, SAYING: "We hope to further reduce the size of the suits, and make it so that they just exist naturally. So that when looking at them from outside it looks like people working." …Whether it be for factory work or transportation, Activelink is spreading the word, as it prepares to release a version of its PowerLoader for sale to the public, hopefully within three years.